I had an epiphany about 10 years ago when along with the other members of the senior executive of the company I was working at; I took a training course called “Management by Responsibility”. This eight week course opened my eyes to human behaviour and my own behaviour in such a way as to literally change the way I look at the world. I know that the other managers enjoyed the course but I don’t think any of them were affected the way I was with the material.
The course was designed by Dr. G. Michael Durst and instructed to our executives by Mr. Lorry Schneider, I have to recognize not only the creator of the course but the instructor also as I believe that Lorry’s style of instruction added the secret ingredient to having the message have such an impact on me.
The training delivered many important messages but a couple of the more important ones that I took away from the course go like this. You should be 100% responsible for your actions and be sensible enough to realize that you are in the position in life that you are right now because you put you there. You did all the things that were necessary to be where you are right now, be that a good place or not so good. As many of you know this is a big one for this industry, I love trucking and all things truck, always have but we are rampant with the victim mentality.
All you have to do is spend a little time in most drivers’ rooms or listen to the CB radio for more than a few minutes and you know exactly what I am talking about. People aren’t as successful as they want to be because of the company they work for, the government is keeping us down, the oil companies are keeping me from making the money I want, the shippers are screwing us all, the load brokers are all thieves it goes on and on. The last couple years that I drove I only turned the CB on when I needed directions or needed to know if a coup was open, I couldn’t take all the negativity that came at me mile after mile.
Even then I wanted to challenge all of the whining I was hearing; maybe that’s why this course I took had such an eye opening effect on me. I was smart enough to know that there was no sense in arguing with people who have the victim mentality embedded into their DNA, what I wanted to say to these folks was, don’t like the company your working for, find another one, you’re not chained to that one and if there all the same, get out of the industry, I won’t miss you, promise, the government does stupid things that are counterproductive at times no doubt, what have you done to try and change any of those things, do you even vote? Complaining sure isn’t getting much done, the price of oil is the price of oil and it’s to high, what do you do to minimize the expense of fuel, if you’re an O/O do you know your cost of fuel out to 3 decimals? At the end of the day do you focus your attention to being as productive as you possible can be or do you go about your daily toil like a robot complaining about every challenge that comes up?
The other lesson learned for me was that people are not all alike and if you want to challenge people and have them perform at a level that will help your organization succeed you better learn what motivates each person on your team. Durst broke each person into five separate categories, the Unconscious Level is someone who is not tuned into reality, this stage is usually reserved for young children, but many adults continue to go unconscious as a defence mechanism. The Self Protective Level, these folks protect themselves by blaming other when things go wrong, your misery can never be your own fault when you can lay the blame on someone else. The Conformist Level, these folks do as their told without ever questioning why, they check their brains at the door and only do what have to do and nothing more. The Achievement Level, these folks need to be continually challenged and recognized, their self worth is decided by their latest achievement, everything is a crisis and an emergency, these folks also have a sense of independence are goal driven and are productive. Finally the Responsible Level, this is the type of person successful companies have an abundance of, these folks have a strong sense of who they are, what they need to do and why they are doing it, they take responsibility for failure and in doing so they are much more resilient, they don’t play the blame game. Their self talk is “I know I am the one who will answer for my every action, and I will profit or suffer accordingly”
Effective managers in today’s companies need to understand the dynamic of the group they are responsible for, each individuals is motivated by different interactions. Don’t get me wrong a manager must deliver discipline even handily, that s not what I am talking about, I am talking about the fact that we are not all made from the same mould. We have had influences during our formative years that have made us what we are and sometimes those influence were not good, being a manger who understands this and is willing to take the time to ensure that helping your people learn, grow and to be productive could not only help them but could result in being the highlight of one’s career.
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